Thursday, September 1, 2016

Cassette Review: China the band "Pool of Tears" (Royal Oakie Records)

[$8 //]

I'm not really sure what to expect from someone called "China" (as it appears on the cassette artwork) or even "China the band" (as it appears on the Bandcamp page), but is it wrong for me to think of this as Americana based upon what the name is?   There is this sort of folk sound to it, which might remind some people of more modern bands that it reminds me of, but I have this mostly classic feel to it, like going through a desert on a horse with no name.

From Neil Young to the Sad Riders, there are pianos and the such which also make me think of The Wallflowers and Shawn Mullins.    It's bits of The Only Children and other bands I cannot think of to reference but people who listen to more college radio rock type of music can probably pull out of their hats for me.     There is likely some more modern influences in here and I just can't make the references because all of my sources seem to be stuck in the same frame of time.

The songs themselves are rather depressing and in that way it also makes me think of them as country songs, even though they don't have that true country twang to them-- just the sadness.   From thoughts of death to the song titled "Everyone Thinks I'm A Loser" I can just imagine these songs being played from a jukebox in a bar somewhere- or even as the house band- as people drown their sorrows in alcohol.  It's not the get up and dance type of country music, if it is even country music at all, but mostly just the songs about losing and leaving.

If you're one of those people who strongly object to country music (which I did as a kid, and then I got this cassette of KISS covers that had some country artists on it, but whatever) you will likely not hear the hints of country in here so much as just think of these as being sad songs.    Though it doesn't sound like Johnny Cash really, it seems to follow the same template of creating music that adheres to a set of guidelines so as to be close to country without actually being it.   And yet, the whole thing is funny because the band name is a country.

I've always had this soft spot for music I listened to growing up, regardless of whether or not I liked it.    I mean, there were artists I heard growing up that I still can't stand, but I'm talking about bands like the Wallflowers and the previously mentioned Shawn Mullins as well, because I might not have ever owned one of their CDs or cassettes but it still felt like they are ingrained as a part of my musical upbringing.   So to be able to capture that in a modern sense, in a band as great as this, just fills me with as much joy as it does nostalgia and for that you should listen to this-- if only to take that trip down memory lane with me.

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